Henry Dissin, wrote Inquirer suburban restaurant reviewer John V.R. Bull in 1986, was "the father of many South Jersey restaurants."

Mr. Dissin, Bull wrote, "made it big years ago with Henry's near the old Garden State Park," the racecourse in Cherry Hill.

"He then went on to own or manage the Calico Kitchen in Pennsauken, O'Henrys in Hurffville, then Absolutely Gloria's in Cherry Hill."

At the time, Bull was reviewing "the newest to be operated" by Mr. Dissin - Mr. Fish & Henry in Barrington.

In a 1985 Inquirer interview, Mr. Dissin said he had opened 52 restaurants for himself and others during 49 years in the business.

Many of those were owned across the nation by the former Sonesta International Hotels Corp., his wife, Arlene, said.

On Thursday, Aug. 27, Henry Dissin, 98, of Woodbury, died at Elmwood Hills Healthcare Center in Blackwood.

Mr. Dissin grew up near Sixth and McKean Streets in South Philadelphia and graduated from South Philadelphia High School during the Depression.

"His sister had a restaurant called the Harvey House" on Broad Street a few blocks south of Philadelphia City Hall, his wife said, "and that's where he was first introduced to the restaurant business."

Tilly Lockman, his sister, was married to Harvey Lockman and "all the people who played in the theaters ate there," often after the evening curtains rang down on their shows, many of them out-of-town tryouts headed for Broadway.

Mr. Dissin interrupted his restaurant education to serve in the Army during World War II, at a radar station in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, just across the border from the identically named town in Michigan.

The big off-duty event there, his wife said, was to go to the railroad station "at 4 o'clock and watch the people that got off the train."

Mr. Dissin returned to Philadelphia as night manager at the Harvey House until, in the 1950s, he and a brother, Samuel, borrowed $5,000 from their sister - about $50,000 in 2015 dollars - and opened Calico Kitchen.

"He had a saying," his wife said, " 'Say goodbye to mediocrity.'

"If you were going to be a restaurant," she said, "put out the best food and do it every day."

Besides his South Jersey locations, Mr. Dissin opened a Calico Kitchen in Plymouth Meeting and Henry's Son at the former Penn Center Inn in Center City.

All of Mr. Dissin's restaurants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have closed, his wife said.

For a time, while he consulted on the Sonesta Hotel restaurants that he had opened, she said, "he commuted to New York daily."

Mr. Dissin was more than an owner and manager of his own restaurants, she said.

"He loved to design a plate of food," she said, and "to get a new recipe. He would do a recipe 50 times until he thought it was worth serving."

Sometimes, downtime was not downtime.

"I thought I was going on a vacation to California" at one time, she recalled, but "it turned out to be a restaurant vacation."

"He had 15 restaurants that he wanted to check out. These were restaurants that were in a magazine and he wanted to see what they were doing and if it was really good.

"Somehow, vacations became work." But, she said, she enjoyed them.

Dr. Herman Rudnick met Mr. Dissin 50 years ago, while dining at Henry's near the Garden State racetrack. They became friends.

"I will remember Henry as a dapper professional with very high standards," the psychiatrist said.

"He always made me smile. He was a funny, tough guy."

Besides Arlene, his wife of 42 years, Mr. Dissin is survived by sons Dr. Jonathan and Peter, stepdaughter Lauren Fox, and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by his former wife, Evelyn.

A visitation was set from 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, before a 2 p.m. funeral there.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.plattmemorial.com.